Flavonoids and how they affect weight

Flavonoids are secondary s for plants and funguses. Meaning organic compounds not directly involved in the development and reproduction of organisms; hence we call them secondary. They are found in certain fruits and vegetables and have been observed to decrease the likelihood of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, to have anti-allergic and diuretic effects as well as to protect teeth and shield against the flu.

In addition to those they also seem to play a positive role in weight maintenance. Studies that set out to explore that role, for the most part, limited their focus in a specific subgroup of flavonoids on the one hand, and used small samples of overweight and obese individuals on the other.

Recently a study was completed in the US which lasted 24 years and studied about 124,000 men and women. The aim was to observe how body weight behaves when we consume flavonoids, more specifically: is regular consumption of those fruits and vegetables, which are sources of various flavonoids, related to weight gain over time? This study has drawn on the material of three other studies which included men and women from all fifty U.S. states. Male participants were between the ages of 40 to 75. Female participants originated from two different studies. The first group included women aged 30 to 55 and the second 25 to 42. It is worth mentioning that people who were obese at baseline were omitted. The determination was made with the use of the Body Mass Index. The same did not happen with those that became obese later on.

The results showed that flavonoids help us put on less weight. Over the 24 year period men were found to have gained on average 6 kg and women between 7.8 to 12 kg. At first glance such increases in weight, and given the long time period, might seem unimportant. However one would be wrong to think like that. By losing that same amount of weight one can both significantly lower his blood pressure and decrease the likelihood of cardiovascular incidents. Also, gaining about 4.5 kg over the age of 40 can make you significantly more vulnerable to diabetes and cancer. Hence weight loss and maintenance even if it looks small has a strong effect in our health.

Of the flavonoids tested anthocyanins, flavonoid polymers and flavonols were found to be the more strongly linked to the positive effects described above. Therefore, consuming food with high flavonoid content such as apples, pears, berries and peppers may help with weight control.



Bertoia M L, Rimm E B, Mukamal K J, et al. (2016) Dietary flavonoid intake and weight maintenance: three prospective cohorts of 124 086 US men and women followed for up to 24 years,  British Medical Journal, 352:i17